Building a culture of employee recognition

Published on January 20, 2021
Last modified on May 06, 2024

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Successful businessperson Ari Weinzweig said, “If you don’t create a great rewarding place for people to work, they won’t do great work.” Employee recognition has long been a keystone in dynamic organizations, and for companies that invest in these programs, the returns make a lasting difference.

The power of employee recognition

Employee recognition is the act of acknowledging employees for their work, contribution, accomplishment, attitude, or overall performance.

It comes in many forms—from tangible rewards such as plaques, wrapped gifts, gift cards, or monetary equivalent. They may also be delivered as verbal recognition, thank you notes, phrases of appreciation, or a post in a company-wide communication portal. Regardless of how it’s given, recognizing employees goes a long way. Here are the top reasons:

1. Recognized employees are happy employees.

The desire to be appreciated is inherent in every human being. When you take the time to sincerely appreciate and recognize your employees’ work, they become happier. This is because they see that the work they put in has value and contributes to the company’s vision.

Appreciated employees are happy employees and happy employees create better relationships with clients and colleagues.

Fun fact: Expressing and receiving appreciation releases dopamine and serotonin in our brains. In other words, the person appreciating and the person being appreciated both feel good afterwards. A win-win indeed!

2. Recognized employees become high performers.

A research done by Culture Amp revealed that rewards and recognition are some of the strongest drivers of engagement across geographies. They add that a powerful and fair recognition program can actually boost critical metrics such as productivity and engagement.

We added the word “fair” because when employees feel that their company’s recognition program is driven by favoritism, it’s more likely to drive down engagement and productivity for the majority.

But when employees equally feel seen and heard, they become more eager to do better. The act of recognizing great employees illustrates to the rest what success looks like – thus, motivating them to do their best, too. 

3. Recognized employees stay longer.

Yes, recognition makes employees happier and more productive – which makes them stick around. Companies who don’t recognize the efforts of their employees have higher turnover rates. The cost in terms of time, effort, and money in training a new employee yearly is worth more than implementing a recognition and rewards program.

When companies recognize and reward good work, employees feel more content. The workplace becomes a force of productivity and positivity rather than toxicity. Employees seek such nurturing work environments, so they tend to stick around knowing that they’re part of a company that values them.

Recognizing your employees

Employee recognition doesn’t always have to cost so much. Intangible rewards are just as memorable as gifts and plaques. We agree with Gallup Workspace when they remarked that recognition is low cost but has high impact. Here are some ways you can recognize the efforts of your employees:

1. Phrases of sincere gratitude and acknowledgement

Here, sincerity is key. When giving phrases of recognition, avoid being too scripted or rehearsed. Create and deliver the message of recognition in a meaningful way so that it expresses exactly what the employee has done well. It must also contain a touch of uniqueness for the person being recognized.

A genuine and authentic phrase of gratitude is a powerful mood-lifter and motivator.

2. Thank-you notes

You can also write thank-you notes. Surprise your employee by sticking a thank-you note on their desktop before they come to work in the morning. It would be a great way to start the day!

3. Plaques or badges

This is not as common as the rest on this list. Plaques or badges are often hung for sales employees who meet their sales targets. For some companies, having to create plaques and badges may cost a lot, but you don’t have to do that!

At 1902, we have one Travelling Carrot award, a customized trophy symbolizing a reward, which a carrot stands for. It’s given randomly by a manager from any section to team members who have done exemplary work for any task or project.

4. Cash, gift checks, discount coupons

Cash and coupons are one of the most popular rewards given to employees. Aside from the regular salary, they’re given an added “bonus” for doing well.

5. Gift items

Other than gift checks or coupons, you can also opt for physical and practical gifts such as gadgets, mobile or computer accessories, small appliances, and the like.

6. Vacation trips

Since the rise of the millennials, vacation incentives have become a popular means of rewarding employees. Besides giving encouragement for an employee’s effort, vacation incentives also give importance to healthy breaks away from work.

A final note

There is no one best form of recognition or reward to give your employees for their efforts. You can be flexible depending on the company’s financial constraints and the milestone being celebrated.

For example, if an employee did great on a specific task, then words of appreciation, a thank-you note, or a message in the office board will definitely boost the person’s morale.

Meanwhile, if an employee marks a more significant milestone, like celebrating a 10th anniversary with the company, or closing a long-awaited deal, then recognition in the form of a vacation or cash can be more appropriate.

Regardless of how you plan your recognition program, always keep in mind that every employee is unique and valuable. Treat everyone fairly and show sincerity when acknowledging them for their contributions and hard work. These efforts will definitely make a lasting difference.



Peter Skouhus

Peter Skouhus

A Danish entrepreneur who owns 1902 Software Development, an IT company in the Philippines where he has lived since 1998. Peter has extensive experience in the business side of IT development, strategic IT management, and sales.